Reach

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Pearl Reach invents Plasma, a better and cleaner energy source, to make the world a better place. Unwittingly, she initiates the beginning of the end, and suffers for it.

Submitted: June 03, 2018

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Submitted: June 03, 2018

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  "And with that," I shout with as much gusto as I can muster.

A fresh brand of excitement and enthusiasm brews in the crowd and I. It is the same brand that was when Eleric revealed his electric light bulb, or Nawcram revealed his steam engine.

  "Ladies and gentlemen, I present the future. I present to you..."

The hype grips the crowd and anticipation squeezes the air in my lungs.

  "Plasma!"

  The crowd roars with deafening applause even before I pull open the curtains, revealing a giant cylindrical glass tank containing a bright blue stone. The stone is barely the size of my fist, but it shines with such a magnificent brilliance, arresting the eyes of all the audience in one fell swoop.

  Plasma. A compound refined from certain chemicals in the magma of our planet. Reliable. Inexpensive. Deadly. The substance—no, Plasma, is highly volatile when melted down. When heated, liquid Plasma generates enormous amounts of energy focused at a single point. When mixed with rain, gaseous Plasma returns to the ground. Eseyu's crust naturally compensates for gaps in the mantle. The cycle repeats. A sustainable energy source.

  My notes repeat themselves in my head while I wait for the crowd to calm down. The applause slowly dissipates and the chatter quietens.

  "Now for a little demonstration." I announce, pulling a remote control out of my pocket and pushing a button. The tank disappears under the stage and a new setup takes its place. A cylindrical mechanism resembling a syringe, with a flat head where the needle should be. The mechanism's dull grey soon turns to red as it electronically heats up.

  "Now watch!"

  I press a separate button on my remote and a concentrated blue beam of pure unadulterated Plasma shoots out of the mechanism. The faces of those privileged enough to see first-hand today matter’s fourth state up close with such intensity and majesty are priceless. Any worries I had before of an unconvinced crowd disappears immediately.

  "With this technology, as I have shown in my slides, we can create sustainable energy for our cities and, one day, for civilian use. Plasma will change the way our cities are run. It will change our work and our play. It will change our lives. Dear ladies and gentlemen, scientists and entrepreneurs, journalists and reporters, our most respected Governor Reiss," I say, earning a nod from the Governor, "I've said this before and I'll say it again. Plasma is the future!"

  Resounding applause once again fills the theatre hall as I thank the crowd and step off the stage. Indeed, Plasma is the future and the future is bright.

Transcript—Telephone conversation, 29/14/2357, 2500 hours.

  “Indeed, the future is bright for Vero, but what about the future of our nation? You must realise, Mrs Reach—”

  “Doctor. Doctor Reach.”

  “Doctor Reach. You must realise the incredible potential for this new technology to improve the security of this country. Kal’venh lies just across the ocean with a military force nearly thrice the size of ours. In the past decade, they’ve launched at least two military campaigns against us. With this technology, we could level the playing field. Show Kal’venh that we meant it when we declared independence.”

  “Then we’ll win like we did the past two times. It’s not happening, Colonel. My technology will not be used for the military.”

  “You realise that if you don’t help us, someone else will, right?”

  “…”

  “Doctor Reach?”

  “I realise. But I will have no part in it.”

  “You’re missing out on a lucrative business, Doctor.”

  “Good night, Colonel.”

Transcript—Televised speech, 30/15/2357, 0400 hours.

  Today, we are at war.

  Kal’venh has repeatedly harassed us on our own borders, and they’ve broken the camel’s back. At 1600 hours yesterday, they launched a missile at our North Island, destroying the coastal town of Yarreth and killing 182 civilians. We cannot let this evil go unavenged. Our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends in Yarreth will not go unavenged. Brace yourself, Kal’venh. The wrath of the Islic Republic will be felt this day.

Transcript—News report, 50/03/2358, 0800 hours.

  This is an urgent message to all citizens of the Islic Republic. The epidemic commonly known as ‘Marre’s Flu’ has reached critical levels. A state of national emergency is in effect as of this moment. All members of the public must stay indoors at all times. Plague workers are working quickly to aid infected members of the public, but we must also do our part to prevent the spread of the disease. Do not visit your places of work until the quarantine has been lifted. Do not visit friends or family until the quarantine has been lifted. Do not leave your house other than to collect rations from your districts designated collection point at your given time-slot. Persons found disobeying quarantine will be prosecuted.

  “What’s happening?” I ask. The lights are too bright and the people everywhere are speaking Kal’venhi. I haven’t seen the outside in… too long.

  “Rest. Try not to speak. You are weak,” a man says. He has a very strong Kal’venhi accent. He carries me as one would carry a baby.

  “Where are you taking me?”

  “Away from here,” he says, “The world is ruined.”

  The world is ruined? “What?”

  “I said, the world is ruined.”

  “Yes, but what do you… how is the world ruined?”

  “I forget. You have been in jail for too long. Our government made… errors… during the war. The plague… it was a weapon.”

  I want to fight. To protest. How inhumane do you have to be? Millions of people have died from that plague! Innocents! Civilians! But I’m too weak. I can barely even lift my fingers. I stay, in shock, in the arms of this enemy.

  “How…? Why…?” I ask instead.

  “It was to fight the Regulators.”

  “The what?”

  “Super soldiers. They were terrible. They moved like lightning and shot more accurately than any other soldier. But that’s not all. They were like the magi in the ancient stories. They shot fire from their hands and crushed our tanks like tin cans, simply by wishing it to be so. It was pure witchery, and we could not fight it.”

  “That’s insane. It’s…”

  Not impossible. Before they arrested me, we found that the Plasma had mutagenic properties. We never tested it intentionally, but insects around the laboratory building would become strange. Extra legs, larger mandibles... It makes sense now. They weren’t making weapons with my Plasma. They were making men.

Transcript—Meeting 1 of the Organisational Board for the Islic New Sanctuary, 15/04/2365, 3000 hours.

President Reiss: I declare this meeting open. Today we declare ourselves wholly committed to the running of the New Sanctuary, a nation-state free of any trace of CYTGN8723, commonly known as ‘Marre’s Flu’, and humanity’s final hope of survival against this epidemic. Now, first on the agenda, we must all officially agree on the members of this board and their roles. Turn to Annex 1 on your documents. If you agree, you may sign. Let’s make this quick, people.

General Cross: I disagree.

President Reiss: On what, Cross?

General Cross: I will not have Pearl Reach in charge of Internal Security.

President Reiss: We’ve been through this, Cross. What do you want.

General Cross: She’s officially Kal’vehni. She’s a war criminal, Reiss.

Doctor Reach: Fuck you, Cross!

President Reiss: Doctor Reach! Sit down.

High King Agur: In that case, I disagree with General Cross as Minister for Defence.

President Reiss: General Cross, I will remind you this is a board made up of leaders from all around the world. It would work in our common interests to respect every person at this meeting.

Doctor Reach: I’m a war criminal, Cross? Me? You’re the fucking war criminal, Cross! You started the stupid war with Kal’venh. You killed my husband and arrested me for being a Kal’venhi spy! Go on Cross, hit me! Hit me like the man you are! It’d be nothing compared to what I suffered the four years I spent in prison!

President Reiss: Control yourself, dammit! Sit down, Doctor Reach!

Bishop Smith: President Reiss, I would like to motion for a vote to overrule General Cross’s objection.

President Reiss: Thank you, Bishop Smith. Doctor Reach, you previously campaigned against the use of Plasma for military use. Why do you now want to lead the Regulators’ Programme?

High King Agur: Regulators? I thought you cancelled the project!

Doctor Reach: I don’t trust anybody else with it. Plasma is my life’s work. I invented it. I think I have the right to do this.

President Reiss: Very well. Bishop Smith, motion passed. All in favour of overriding General Cross’s objection, please raise your hands. Very well. Objection overruled, General Cross. Any more objections? Good. Please sign Annex 1 so we can move on to the next item of our agenda. We’re going to have a long night ahead of us.


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